Taking charge of Page Load
In the online world, speed is a critical element. A key factor in search engine optimization is to improve page load speed. This will impact the search results directly, and can also improve the rate of conversions. Sites like WebpageTest offer great reporting on trouble spots.
Here are some simple tips for improving the page loading speed:
Big and Complex Pages Don’t have to be Slow
When websites are stuffed with images, complex visual designs, and numerous style sheets, no matter how pretty the page appears you’ll have additional resources to download. Each file, script, or stylesheet requires an addition HTTP request, which will slow down page load. Combining styles and reducing file counts can have a huge impact on load times.
Combining and Compressing Can Improve Load Times
Use Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools will help analysing website speed, and can give tips and suggestions. Many browsers support plug-ins and tools that can help analyse the site, and target increases in speed.
Images Should be in the Correct Format
When it comes to images certain types of images offer advantages. JPEG (.jpg) and Portable Netword Graphics (.png) can be compressed, and offer reduced file sizes and quicker rendering. Other formats like GIF, BMP and TIFF are generally larger and suffer visual degradation with reductions in size.
Site Caching and Content Delivery Networks
Server side caching, combined with appropriate html caching will greatly impact repeat page loads. Browsers cache common elements on the first page load, and are therefore not required to ‘reach out’ to the internet for subsequent requests. Triggered by both server configuration and html ‘meta’ arguments, page loads can be reduced significantly.
In addition to browser caching, the use of a Content Delivery Network or CDN. When CDN is used, the website gets cached by servers in different locations, allowing the fastest available service to deliver content.
Limit CMS Plugins
Content Management Systems provide incredible flexibility, and add-on plug-ins provide useful functionality. At the same time however, many of the plug-ins available require the loading of additional scripts. Taking an inventory of your site plug-ins may yield unused items, which can be disabled to use only those which are actually required.
A large part of the Google search algorithms centres on user experience. Slow sites have poorer engagement, and ultimately reduced search value. Even when you’ve got the right content, great keywords, and a usable design, your speed can keep visitors from finding you. Take the time to speed things up, you’ll be glad you did.